Lots of Talk, Few Results at Health Care Summit

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Six hours of talks at President Barack Obama's bipartisan health care summit included television cameras, talking points, a lot of disagreements, and few results.

At the beginning, there were handshakes all around as everyone put on his or her bipartisan best. Then the president, the summit moderator, stated his goal.

"I hope that this isn't just political theater where we're just playing to the cameras and are actually trying to solve the problem," Obama said during his opening remarks.

The GOP chose mild-mannered Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to make their case for killing the Senate bill and starting over.

Our country is too big, too complicated, too decentralized for a few of us here in Washington just to write a few rules remaking 17 percent of our economy all at once," he said. "That kind of a thing works in the classroom, but it doesn't work very well in our big complicated country."

Several lawmakers came with horror stories of people who have had problems with their health care.

"A woman I know well called me up and said, "Steny, I have just been diagnosed with a tumor," Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said.

Throughout the session, Republicans stressed the massive size of the bill, and the polls showing that a solid majority of Americans want to scrap it and start over.

Democrats tried to convince Republicans that their concerns about cost, insurance portabilty, and even tort reform were addressed in the current bill, and the rest could be worked out.

But in a flashback to the 2008 campaign, the veneer of friendliness wore thin, as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., brought up his objections to the bill.

"Let me just make this point, John, because we're not campaigning anymore -- the election's over," Obama said.

"I'm reminded of that every day." McCain shot back.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid implied in his remarks that he's ready to use a reconciliation process to force the bill through Congress with a 51-vote majority, bypassing a Republican threat to filibuster.

But it's that the kind of talk that will likely ensure there won't be a "part II" for the "health summit reality show."

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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.